March 2014

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City considers significant annexations

Gary Garnett files for mayoral election on May 10

Manvel Police Report

City to move forward with annexations

Lakeland receives building variance

Manvel HS to see portable buildings next year

School districts update Pearland Chamber

Manvel graduates first CERT class

 

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City considers significant annexations

March 5, 2014

 

The City of Manvel and its Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ) is as large as it is going to get, explained City Manager Kyle Jung in asking city council to authorize city staff to consider significant annexations of territory currently outside the city limits. As Jung described it, Manvel is landlocked by Pearland on the north and northwest, Iowa Colony on the southwest and south, and by Alvin on the south and east. “With the exception of the south entrance on 288 coming in, the other four accesses into the city on Hwy 6 on both sides, 288 from the north, and 1128 are all outside the current city limits. One of the things the city needs to consider is the possibility of annexing the areas in the ETJ for several different reasons.” He went on to say that the city gets to control what kind of land uses are inside the city limits while having no zoning authority in areas outside the city limits. Any development that comes in will generate property taxes and commercial developments will generate sales taxes as well.

City staff determined eleven areas for proposed annexation that comprise approximately 5.75 square miles. Jung explained that staff was “looking for areas that held major access points, possible commercial areas, major thoroughfares, and beginning to square off the remaining parts of the city.” Areas 4, 5, and 6 encompass approximately 620 acres along County Road 90, FM 1128, and Old Chocolate Bayou, which all are on the city’s Major Thoroughfare Plan. Areas 1, 2, and 7 encompass approximately 1,660 acres and are on the west side of Hwy 288. Areas 9, 10, and 11 encompass approximately 219 acres and serve to primarily square off the city’s southern boundaries. Area 3 and 8 encompass approximately 1,060 acres on the east and northeast side generally along CR 99 and up to and including Wolf Airpark.

According to Jung, state law allows a city to annex up to 10% of its land area within the city limits. If no annexation occurs, that 10% can roll into the next year and then the next year after that so that a city can annex a maximum of 30% of its land area in one year. Last year Manvel authorized some limited purpose annexations of area Municipal Utility Districts (MUD’s) which amounted to 12% of the city’s land area and those areas are included in the city’s calculation. The carryover of 18% was added to the 10% available in 2014 so that the city could annex up to 28% of its land area. The areas under consideration amount to about 21%, according to the city’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, or approximately 3,750 acres.

Member Adrian Gaspar inquired what city services would need to be provided in the annexed areas. City attorney Bobby Gervais said “the city would need to provide basically the same services as we give to other similar areas.” Jung elaborated that “police, roads, libraries, and drainage would probably be the biggest things.” State law defines a service plan that the city would need to follow which Jung described: “police protection is immediate, other services can be provided up to four years of annexation.”

Member Larry Akery said he does not want to go into this blindly and expressed concern about the obligation the city would bear on road maintenance in the annexed areas and the ability of the Police Department to handle the additional patrol areas. Jung indicated he would ask the road department to study the road status and police Chief Keith Traylor said “most of the areas are unpopulated and are already within our patrol area.”

Mayor Delores Martin concedes people are not going to happily accept annexation and the accompanying city property tax when they already are receiving fire and police protection and will get little in additional city services. Member Melody Hanson said “they will get representation. They get a chance to vote and have a say in this city and they get a chance to run for office if they wish. Right now they are impacted by what we do but they have no say in what we do.” Hanson continued saying “transportation and drainage are huge issues here and if this gives us the opportunity to get ahead of the curve it would be a huge win for us.”

Council’s action did not ensure that any areas would be annexed. The city attorney made clear that the adopted resolutions only serve to “direct staff to look into it and develop a service plan that would be brought back to council which would then need to authorize public hearings. It would be April before council could actually vote any actual annexation. This just starts the process.” Jung elaborated: “There are required public hearings, notifications, public notices in the newspaper, and notices mailed to affected property owners. The city will need to spell out exactly what services it will provide and the time frame to do them. So there are some expenses the city will incur.” Manvel voters will have the ultimate say by voting on council’s ultimate recommendation on May 10.

Citizens and affected property owners have ample opportunity to express their support and/or concerns. Every city council meeting includes a “Citizens Comments” portion and as previously indicated, public hearings will be conducted to hear citizen input. Mayor Martin said “citizens will need to come forward and be vocal about how they feel” if they are not in favor of the proposed annexations. Maps showing proposed annexed areas can be viewed at City Hall.

 

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Gary Garnett files for mayoral election on May 10

March 5, 2014

 

Former city council member Gary Garnett was a late filer and will challenge long-time Mayor Delores Martin who will be seeking her sixth consecutive term as mayor. Garnett served on council from 2005 – 2011 and chose not to run for reelection then because he and his wife “were thinking about retiring but decided we love Manvel and wanted to stay.” Expressing a desire to involve himself in city affairs again, Garnett unsuccessfully challenged incumbent council member Lew Shuffler in 2013.

Two council positions will also be contested in May. Incumbent John Cox, a self-employed barber, is seeking re-election for his Place 3 position and is being challenged by John Aucoin, a system engineer and police officer. Current member Larry Akery will defend his Place 5 position and is being challenged by Jerome Hudson. Both Akery and Hudson are retired. Hudson is active in city committees and has previously contested for a council position.

Election Day will be Saturday, May 10. Early voting will begin Friday, April 28 and run through Monday, May 5.

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Manvel Police Report

March 5, 2014

 

On Feb 24 officers responded to 9 Supiro Ct on a complaint from a young girl that her parents were being physically abusive. The allegations appeared to be unfounded but the investigation remains open while waiting for statements from other people.


On Feb 26 Manvel police pulled behind a parked vehicle with hazard lights activated in the inside moving traffic lane on Hwy 288 southbound at 1:42 am. The investigating officer found a female slumped over the steering wheel. She was arrested for driving while intoxicated and several narcotics violations.

On Feb 27 police investigated a claim of a missing person at 5517 Patterson. Investigation subsequently showed no basis for the missing person report to be filed as it was determined a girlfriend was unable to locate her estranged boyfriend after they shared a disagreement.

On Feb 28 officers responded to a burglar alarm at 6815 Powell Lane. Upon arrival it was determined that forced entry to a back door was evident. There was no property taken and it is assumed the alarm scared him off. Police are waiting for crime scene video from the alarm company that they hope will lead them to the perpetrator.

Also on Feb 28, Emily’s Restaurant was the subject of a fraud action. A phone caller identified themselves as being from the power company and threatened to shut off the power within thirty minutes unless the bill was brought current. Management indicated the bill had been paid but the caller insisted that it was not received and that it would need to be brought current. Responding to the threat, management acquired pre-paid cards to satisfy the callers demand. It was subsequently recognized that the entire affair was fraudulent in order to entice the owner to pay the charge. Police say they are encountering a lot of this type of fraud in that area.

On Mar 1 police investigated two criminal mischief incidents. One involved a shattered driver’s side car window at 6703 Powell. There was no sign of any items being taken from the vehicle. The second incident occurred at the Best Western Motel on Hwy 6 when management reported a customer breaking a window in their room and leaving without informing management. The manager on duty indicated a desire to not press charges so long as the cost of the replacement was given.

On Mar 2 an officer issued traffic citations for a speeding driver in the 17000 block of Hwy 6. Drug paraphernalia was found in the vehicle but no arrests were made. Also on Mar 2 an officers responded to a report of a death of a 69 year-old under hospice care at 6907 Cindy St.

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City to move forward with annexations

March 12, 2014

 

Manvel city council met in executive session at this week’s council meeting to discuss legal issues involving annexations. The session follows last month’s action directing city staff to begin the process of developing a service plan for council to vote on. The service plan will spell out exactly what services the city will provide to the newly annexed areas and a time frame for their implementation. According to state law, police protection would need to be made available immediately upon annexation while other services can be provided up to four years from the annexation date.

The preliminary proposal provides for the annexation of approximately 21% of the city’s land area, or roughly 3,750 acres. In making the proposal for council’s consideration, City Manager Kyle Jung explained the benefit of annexation as allowing the city to control the kinds of land uses through the implementation of the city’s zoning ordinances. Development in the ETJ, where the proposed land is located, does not allow for any city zoning authority. The city would also realize both city ad valorem taxes and potential sales taxes generated from development in the annexed areas.

A citizen who would be affected by the annexation addressed council in the Citizens Comments portion of this week’s meeting. He voiced his displeasure with council and the city administration, saying “to Manvel, we do not need you. Stop your plans and have some humility. We live in the country; we never wanted to be city folks.”

Council is expected to have a more firm plan to vote on at the next council meeting scheduled for March 24. If it is authorized to move forward, the city will be required to hold public hearings, offer notifications and public notices in the newspaper, and mail notices to each affected property owner before an ultimate vote to approve the annexations can be made. Last week’s story incorrectly stated that citizens would be able to vote on the annexation plan in the May 10 election. Council alone will have the final authority to approve the plan. Citizens may make their feelings known at the Public Hearings that will be announced well in advance of their occurrence. As Mayor Martin said at the last council meeting, “citizens will need to come forward and be vocal about how they feel” if they are not in favor of the proposed annexations. Maps showing proposed annexed areas can be viewed at City Hall.

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Lakeland receives building variance

March 12, 2014

 

Jeff Payson with Cervelle Homes, the exclusive homebuilder in the Lakeland subdivision, addressed council at this week’s meeting to request a variance from the city’s subdivision ordinance that would allow him to commence construction of eight homes before the recording of the final plat. Typically building permits are not issued without the plat being accepted and filed.

Payson admitted the “subdivision was not approved quickly enough so now we are trying to hurry up and get it done physically.” He went on to say that within the next week or two lots will be graded, staked, and ready for construction. “What I am requesting is that we be allowed to start before the final plat is approved. We wouldn’t hook up to the water or the sewer but we could get the people out there to start working. To get those people back to work is why I am here.”

Several council members expressed concern about a precedent being set that would encourage other developers to make similar requests. Manvel’s consulting civil engineer, Dan Johnson, explained that this request is somewhat different than other requests in that “they are not asking you to file the plat so the risk isn’t on the city. If the plat was filed then he could start selling the lots and we theoretically could have homes out there without an approved subdivision.”

City attorney Bobby Gervais reminded council that every variance request stands on its own; there are different reasons for the request and special hardships to consider. Just because you pass one request does not mean you have to pass the next one. “Basically you are evaluating them on the facts for each one, so legally you can act to approve one and deny another without setting a precedent.”

Member Larry Akery expressed his feeling that with the city’s engineer and permit official accepting of the request and that the developer “went through a lot of work on McCoy to get a lot of that straight, and spent a lot of money, I would be inclined to approve the request.”

Mayor Delores Martin agreed to approve the request providing the builder proffers a Letter of Credit to ensure the satisfactory completion of the process. Payson agreed, saying “if that is required and it will get me the early start then I will get the Letter of Credit.” He went on to explain the leverage held by the city as he sees it: “I have $2 million worth of houses under construction. Worst case, if the subdivision isn’t approved and the checklist isn’t done and all that, regardless of the fact of how many millions have been spent getting the lots to this shape, we can’t get any revenue if we can’t get city approval. That’s a lot of leverage.”

Council ultimately approved the requested variance with a 4-2 vote. Members John Cox and Maureen DelBello voted against and Member Melody Hanson was not in attendance.

In other council news, an ordinance was approved to extend the building moratorium on property development within the boundaries of Municipal Utility District (MUD) 29 which services the Rodeo Palms subdivision. The moratorium has been in place since June 2013 and requires periodic renewal to keep in effect. A new well expected to resolve the problem of insufficient water supplies within the MUD is projected to be complete late this year.

Council also approved the city manager to dispose of six surplus vehicles in the Police and Public Works departments. The vehicles became expendable with the city’s recent acquisition of three new police vehicles. The older police cruisers will be reassigned to replace the surplus vehicles that will be gotten rid of.

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Manvel HS to see portable buildings next year

March 19, 2014

 

Due to high enrollment, Manvel High School will see the use of three portable buildings on campus for the next two school years. Enrollment is projected to be 2,760 students for the school year beginning in August 2014. The campus is designed to accommodate 2,500 students.

Last November, voters in the Alvin Independent School District approved the investment of $252.6 million in new and renovated facilities as well as a host of non-facility assets such as infrastructure and equipment upgrades, campus security enhancements, new technology, and buses. $212.4 million in new bonds will finance the fixed assets and $40.2 million will come from previously approved bond funds, district cash reserves, and current operating funds.

The largest part of the recently approved bond funds will go toward a new high school to serve the west side of the district, providing relief to the overcrowding at Manvel HS. The new high school will be located in Pearland on Kirby Drive just south and west of its intersection with Broadway. Last month the Board of Trustees accepted the name of the school as Shadow Creek High School. Like Manvel HS it will be designed to accommodate 2,500 students but will be designed in a more compact style to better utilize the smaller land area the campus comprises. District officials claim the new school will provide cultural and athletic facilities and programs consistent with other high schools in the district. Construction began earlier this month. The cost is projected to be $104.5 million and district officials are planning for the new school to be opened in time for the 2016-2017 school year.

The next two years of construction for the new high school will see the facilities at Manvel HS stressed as it accommodates student enrollment above its capacity. In preparation, the Board of Trustees approved a budget amendment last November of $350,000 for the purchase, delivery, and windstorm protection for six temporary buildings. Each building consists of two classrooms. At that time it was expected that additional budget amendments would be forthcoming in the amount of $763,000 to include the acquisition of other required amenities to make the classrooms ready for student instruction, such as the infrastructure to support the buildings and furniture and equipment. The total projected cost was $1,113,000.

At this month’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, the district’s Support Services Department presented a revised plan that would provide the need for just three portable buildings at a total cost of $507,760. That cost would include the permitting, installation, furnishing and equipping of the new buildings. To accommodate the needed instructional space from the three buildings not purchased, a future budget amendment will be presented to fund equipment, furniture, and renovation to some interior spaces at Manvel HS. In making the proposal, the Director of Support Services, Pat Miller, claims the new plan will provide a significant savings from the original expected six modular buildings. The Board accepted the revised plan and authorized the budget amendment for an additional $157,260 to fund the three portable buildings.

AISD has older portable buildings that could be made available for the high school but due to stricter insurance and permitting requirements in effect today, the older buildings are not able to be moved from their present locations. When initially planning for new schools, AISD plans for the expectation of adding portable buildings and such was the case in the design of Manvel HS. The portable buildings will be located on land to the east of the campus and will be just west of McCoy and just south of the back parking lot.

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School districts update Pearland Chamber

March 26, 2014

 

The Pearland Chamber of Commerce presented an area school district update at its March membership luncheon. Superintendent Dr. John Kelly represented the Pearland Independent School District (PISD) and Director of Communications Daniel Combs represented the Alvin Independent School District (AISD). AISD Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent had planned to participate but was unable to due to a death in his family.

Dr. Kelly shared his goal since assuming the head job at PISD as becoming world class and he boasts advances in various different fronts. He considers PISD as blessed with great teachers and staff and worries about the difficulty of staying competitive in salaries and benefits.

Combs explained the driving force behind AISD is their vision as a “dynamic learning organization committed to excellence for all students and every program.” He said district officials “want the community to hold us accountable to that; we want to meet the needs of every student that comes into our schools every single day and in the programs that we offer we want to make sure that those are what our students need and also what our community demands.”

PISD had enrollment last school year of 19,651 students. This year enrollment is at 20,050. Kelly says recent demographic studies suggest that PISD is approaching build out and that enrollment is likely to max out at about 22,000. He predicts growth next year of about 400 students. From a facilities point of view it is not so much about building additional campuses as it is about renovations to existing campuses.

Combs describes AISD as a fast-growth district that is currently adding nearly 900 students each year, generally equivalent to adding the capacity of a new school building every year. Since 2007 AISD has added 3,500 students to its enrollment. AISD is expected to surpass PISD enrollment next year with 2017 enrollment projected at 23,000 students. Current enrollment is just under 20,000 with much of that growth occurring along the 288 corridor largely in the Pearland city limits.

Kelly predicts the current school funding system will be declared unconstitutional this year which will require the state legislature to address “this very difficult issue” in their 2015 session. He explained that both PISD and AISD make considerable less revenue per student than the state average, which he estimates at about $30 million per year. Crediting the prior administration, he claims his district is very efficient. Kelly is proud of the district’s financial efficiency and student achievement as recognized by a statistical method created by the state comptroller’s office four years ago. Out of approximately 1,024 school districts in the state, PISD is one of eleven that for every year the report has been available has earned the highest rating.

PISD strives to maintain a ninety day fund balance and is currently “a little above that.” It is expected that a soon to be completed Facilities Study will show the requirement for “quite a bit of work.” Some campuses are “pretty old and are going to need some major help.” Some of the fund balance will potentially be used for that need as well as some previously approved unsold bonds. Kelly also considers it likely that a future bond election will be required at some point in the future.

With increased state finances this year, PISD was able to restore full-time art teachers to the elementary schools and drama faculty to the junior high schools. Kelly says having those programs available helps free up regular teachers with smaller classrooms and offers other advantages. Memorial Hermann is providing $680,000 to the district’s athletic program and other areas with part of the money paying for a digital video board at the football stadium. A satellite bus station was added to the west side of the district that in addition to helping alleviate traffic is projected to save the district $400,000 in mileage and fuel costs each year. Kelly expects the entire facility to be paid for within an eight year period. WIFI has been installed at every campus and the district continues to promote the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program that allows students to use the same device at school and at home.

Combs described AISD’s situation as having two life cycles in regards to facilities. “We have older facilities that were built in the 1960’s that have not had substantial renovation. Our recent bond package has allowed us to start addressing some of those concerns.” The bond package also will fund various new construction projects. Shadow Creek High School is currently under construction as is Manvel Junior High and two new additional elementary schools. The new Duke Elementary on CR 59 at Kirby is scheduled to open this summer in time for the next school year.

Dr. Kelly told the crowd that every PISD school meets state educational standards. He explained that there is an ability to earn what is called as “high distinction” where a school is compared others that are most similar demographically. PISD had 82% of their campuses receive that distinction, well above the statewide average. Advanced placement enrollment and scores and dual credit enrollment has exploded in recent years and PISD has enjoyed some national AP scholarship results which are those students who score very high in a multitude of AP tests. This summer for the first time PISD is offering a course on comparative government with a goal to encourage international travel where kids go and check out other countries. The first trip will visit France.

The number of required tests to graduate has been reduced from fifteen to five. SAT and ACT tests are in addition to the state requirements. The idea is to get away from the one size fits all approach where a four year college degree is the goal for all students. Instead, there will be more concentration on real life skills and careers. Turner High School was opened last year with that idea in mind. It began operation with twice the enrollment predicted and it is expected that enrollment will go even higher next year. AISD is operating its career programs at the old Manvel Junior High and will see an expansion of those offerings in coming years.

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Manvel graduates first CERT class

March 26, 2014

 

Ten Manvel citizens received completion certificates for their participation in an eight week training program in emergency response training. The training consisted of 24 hours and presented a myriad of topics on personal and family preparedness for natural disasters and potential acts of terrorism.

Manvel city council member Lew Shuffler spearheaded the effort to get the program established. Upon receiving his certificate he commented: “This was a wonderful class. It is not just for the major disaster that may occur in the community, but also in your own home. It is good for young families that have kids around the house. It shows you exactly what you have to do in an emergency and what actions you can take to make sure that emergency may not happen in your home.”

The lead instructor for the program, Bill Ray, describes the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training as a “program that allows citizens to get involved in emergency response in their communities. It’s a way to teach how to take care of yourself, your family, and your neighbors in case of emergencies or disasters. We are are teaching lifesaving skills that help not only in disasters but in your everyday life. We had a great class with a really great group of people.”

A new class is scheduled to begin on March 27 and will run for eight weeks through May 15. The classes are free to participants and meet for three hours, 6:30 to 9:30, on Thursday nights at the Manvel EMS station on Masters Road. For additional information, visit www.homelandpreparedness.org or call 281-844-3653. Online registration can be found at http://bit.ly/Manvel2.

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